Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Note: You can take 10% off all Slashdot Deals with coupon code "slashdot10off." ×

Comment Flip the classroom (Score 1) 46

the model espoused by Kahn academy and others is to flip the classroom. You still go to school. But you watch the lesson at home before class. The teacher summarizes the key points in class then they rest of the time is spent working problems from the lesson .

So it's no a no school mooc but just the opposite. You have to watch the lesson by a deadline then you get intensive application experience to find the bugs in your understanding guided by a teacher in a more one on one way.

These mooc videos will be very useful once schools try using them that way. You can imagine having multiple less masterful instructors in the classroom and the master teacher on video saved for all time and in competition with competing master presenters.

Comment I have bad news for you (Score 1) 392

Long time windows hater here , use Macs and Linux, but I accidentally ended up with a windows PC a month ago. My first impression of it, with windows 8 installed, was oh my god, I heard that windows 8 was ten steps back, but I had no idea everyone was right. It was far less intuitive and usable than XP for example. But I decided to upgrade to windows 10 because I had read some good reviews but diehard mac users. From an out of the box factory recovery of windows 8 to an installed windows 10 was an 8 hour ordeal with a few cryptic steps one had to google along the way. It's truly mind boggling that that Microsoft can't figure out how it install a new OS in less than 8 hours. I was going as fast as one could go, the problem was not the dowload speed, that was instant comparitaively on my fast connection. It was that it had to do about 250 incremental and 2 major system updates before it would let you even request windows 10.

Anyhow once I got windows 10 installed. I was expecting to hate it. I'm sort of upset that it's so good. It basically is very close to a well configured linux mint in look and feel. The start menus is back and those crazy pants tiles with tonnes of crap you never asked for are wrangled into a small corner of the start menu and trimmed down to just the things you use a lot. The best description of the OS is that it no longer gets in your way so it's more like every other OS now.

It's still baffling in the directory layout and the mysteries of the registry. And since I have no idea how to use power shell I feel completely helpless; unistalls are inscrutable. And there's still the problem of crapware that burdens this. After you install Norton Utilities tries to trick you into installing it before revealing that it is payware. Within 2 weeks I got the entrire system trojaned with mal ware. I wasn't trying to do anything bad at all. I was trying to install an editor for minecraft mods and it came wrapped in something called openDownloader which just hosed my system. I told the windows 10 to revert it self, so I lost all my installs but at least got my computer back from the grave. What's meaningful about that ordeal is that it was the first time in my entire life that I got hit with malware. Iv'e certainly managed to download accidental malware on linux and mac, but it's always been possible for me to either inspect it enough to figure it out beofre the install or to install it under conditions (like not root or with a sandbox) that it was neutered or at the very least find every file that got touched. So malware has never been a problem for me before ever before I used a modern windows machine.

So between the 8 hour ordrdeal and the instant rooting I'm not a fan on Microsoft design. But if you are a savy windows user, have an already updated computer (not a factor reinstall) then installation will be a snap, and you will love this operating system. It's so mac and linux mint like.

Comment Winning? yes that was the goal. (Score 2) 53

I see a lot of comments here about the term "winning" being jingoist or otherwise Soviet bashing. In this day and age of infinite nuance one can see why avoiding terms that imply superiority or seem revisionist depending on your subjective interpretation is politically correct. However, At the time of the great space race, the politically correct way of looking at things was in terms of "winning". The moon was a race. Part of the race was about building booster rockets that would be useful for ICBMs. But another was the race for mindshare in world where both russia/soviet and the US thought in terms of spreading communism. As time wore on, the space race also became a way for the US and Russia to releave the tensions of the proxy wars and find a new playing field in which cooperation was possible. Skylab and the soviet counterpart were plans for which guests from each country might be welcomed on board. But each country wanted to "win" in terms of being the host not the guest. This later paved the way for more cooperation with the international space station. bit by bit, then sportsmanship in space became a route to ties, cooperations and maybe trust, which helped with the START ballistic missile limitation treaties. So there's really nothing wrong with calling this "winning" as that was the terms of this sporting conquest of space was in fact waged under. It was a race and doing it better than the other guy was the goal. THe early russian firsts with sputnik and laika and the crash landings on venus and the moon and mars showed it was a race. The US response was to do everything better rather than be the also ran in same category of accomplishment. Thus it's not unfair to chest thump that the US did achieve more successful and elaborate missions even if the Soviets got somewhere first. It was about winning. But the off earth sporting contest created some cooperative sportsmanship too. THese days people think that contests create contention and the opposite, altruistic cooperation, is the morally superior route to reliving contention but the space race showed that cooperation can emerge out of contests too.

Comment funding the lander. (Score 5, Interesting) 53

The viking mission was only funded for about 60 days of data collection. Yet the data kept flowing for years. Somehow they managed to keep the monitoring stations open to capture and archive the data. But it just was spooled onto magnetic tapes and stored on shelves. Years later I came along as a summer student and manually loaded the tapes one by one and read them onto a disk, and was the first person ever to know and analyze the multi-year weather data sets. Virtually every other nasa mission has the same budget profile of expecting early failure so not budgeting in the costs of maintaining the mission. No doubt it's a good strategy if they feel to be able to come back and ask for more, but as my experience shows sometimes that doesn't work and you don't get the extra funding. Also in hindsight, given the unknown local boulder field where one of them landed, there was a low probability of a successful landing, so maybe someone figured 60days was the average lifespan given the high infant mortality of landers.

When the Landers eventually died no one was sure why. It was thought maybe a bad instruction put them into a state that drained batteries or something. At that time James Tillman (U.W.) asked for a small 5K budget to put together a manual that would detail the RS232-like external connectors on the lander and explain how to repower and and communicate with the device from the outside--- should anyone ever happen to go there in the future and be physically present it would be easy to turn it back on. But that was never funded.

The landers themselves were built to specs that no subsequent mission has used. In particular they were worried about sterilizing the lander of all earth living material so it was baked at such a high temperature most conventional electronic materials (at the time) would have failed. For example, The data collected was cached on tape while it was out of sight of the satellite data link to earth. But conventional ferric oxide tapes would have melted in the sterilization process, so they took a page from Hitler's scientists who pioneered magnetic recording on magnetic stainless steel tapes. Radiation damage to integrated electronics in satellites was a big problem at the time, and I'm not sure why that's different now, but in any case they decided to use core memory rather than chip memory. (hence the term "core dump" for all you youngsters). Only this wasn't your grandmother's knitting style core memory but rather the cores were applied by evaporating the magnetic material onto the wires allowing a tight radiation impervious memory mesh to be synthesized. The wind and temperature sensor had no moving parts. Instead it consisted of three temperature sensors mounted on short poles at right angles to each other, and a hot wire mounted on a pole diagonal to all three. When the wind blew the thin martian atmosphere it would blow the heated air over the temperature pickups differently and from there one can solve the inverse problem of pressure (density), temperature, and wind speed and direction.

Comment The upside of patent holding (Score 1) 40

Someone who holds patents without producing anything for the purpose of extracting royalties is not a patent troll.

Patent trolls are bad. These are people who exaggerate their patent's originality and breadth to practice extortion-- extortion usually comes in the form or asking for money at a sufficiently small sum compared to what the company might risk losing if it pressed the case.

but holding companies that don't act like patent trolls are hugely valuable. For example, consider the company PDLI. it holds biomedical patents and it's most profitable patent is "Queen et al", which is a general method for humanizing antibodies (that is what lets you take antibodies developed outside of humans and turn them into drugs suited for humans). The people who developed the patent were lab researchers who have no ability or interest in making commerical scale drugs. That's why we have drug companies. They sell the patent to PDLI for assured income, and PDLI takes on the risk of marketing the patent. Drug companies use the patented process to make and sell comerical drugs. The researcher's are not waiting around for the drug companies to have success to get paid. Thus everyone in the food chain here is doing exactly what they are good at doing. The patents would not be in such widespread use without PDLI stepping up to arbitrage the risk and make the market for the patent work.

Arbitragers are good.

Patents are valuable to society becuase comapnies will often not invest the time and effort into refining a method of production if they can't be protected from upstarts. Thus technology and science enter the commercial arena more quickly when patent protection lets a company take the investment risk. THat is, by liscencing a patent either exclusively or one with a high price their is a strong barrier to competition from upstarts. At the right level of exclusivity or price this actually enhances the use of the technology not diminishes it by exclusion. An logically, the patent holder sets the terms where they get the most money which comes from the most valued use of the invention. SO society benefits.

Thus there's a huge difference between extortionists with bad patents wield as war clubs against companies not able to defend themselves and non-producing patent holders which are hugely beneficial to society.

using the phrase non-producing patent holder as the definition of a patent troll is wildly inaccurate and misleading

Comment No alaska will get the traffic jam (Score 3, Funny) 280

when thousands of unconscious drunk people, faces covered in felt marker writing wake up and stumble out of their cabs and collectively ask where the hell am I. And the cab says "Anchorage Alaska, that'll be $1500.00 for the ride."
At least there will be enough cabs to take them home right there.

Comment Useless stupid jerk (Score 0) 371

1) You don't "ask" a child molester to leave the kids alone. MS obviously wants more of a presence in the internet niche of the industry. They've allowed IE to become irrelevant for at least since 2009. They've wasted a ton of money on Edge's development, and MS needs something to make Windows 10 look like its a winner. Its a cheap way for MS to get new Windows 10 users to take a look at their new web browser, and its not like MS makes it impossible to go back to making chrome or an inferior 3rd party browser the default again.

2) Speaking as an actual firefox user, for some inexplicable reason, the CEO of firefox insists on releasing notably inferior web browsers from its previous versions at the beginning of 2015!!! They are slower than the firefox versions from the start of the year, and the older firefox versions were still noticeably slower than the competition. The only reason why the older versions were tolerable was that they weren't horribly slow like your current product! Now I frequently get odd moments when firefox seems to need to hit up the CPU, without browsing activity, and because the firefox code has such poorly implemented threading, the browser will seize up while waiting for firefox to resolve its background knitting! And that's on machines with an i7 desktop CPU, and 16GB of RAM!

3) Its a sign of extreme cluelessness when Beard thinks he can deflect from his failure as a CEO, and blame Microsoft for his incompetence. This isn't 2003; no one thinks of MS as the evil empire anymore; more like the asshole grandpa who still doesn't need a bedpan. How about securing patrons or a financing model after Google decided not to give you a free lunch anymore? How about not releasing new versions with new features that denigrate what little positive opinion firefox has left with its users?!?! Your CTO(?) had the right idea when he suggested chucking non-webkit code and starting from scratch. It sounds like unthinkable refactoring that would leave firefox dead in the water for a year, but at least you would retain your current user base!!! Instead of trying to build a McMansion on top of a crumbling foundation.

4) Since he doesn't code, the only constructive thing Beard can do at this point, is try to help find a CEO less incompetent than he is (preferably with a development background), or at least put a deadline on your resignation within 6 months, in order to force the board to find a replacement.

Comment use slashdotFS (Score 3, Funny) 219

I use slashdotFS which is a markovian random comment generator which effectively embeds data in a stegenographic comment. The FS handles the details of creating and saving these so it's all transparent and mounts on your desktop like a regular drive. It's slow but it's capacity seems unlimited and frequently gets modded insightful

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada